Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. When Carrie Fisher died suddenly in December 2016, it wasn't just millions of Star Wars fans who were devastated, of course. The legendary actor was admired by countless people not only for her character in the iconic franchise, but for her other film and TV work, her writing, her activism, and so much more. Still, Fisher's role in the Star Wars universe was inarguably huge, and her death did leave many of us unsure of how Leia would be portrayed in the series' upcoming films. While it's clear now that Leia has a significant role in The Last Jedi, out Dec. 15, whether Carrie Fisher is in Star Wars: Episode 9 is a bit more up in the air.
In The Last Jedi, the actor's beloved character of General Leia plays a big part in the events that unfold. As leader of the Resistance, Leia commands hundreds of rebel fighters, including Poe Dameron, and everyone looks at her for guidance. Yet relatively early on in the movie, Leia gets sidelined when an explosion rocks her ship and flies her out into space. She manages to return on-board, but she's left unconscious and her condition remains quite serious for much of the movie. Yet when she senses Luke's Jedi powers awakening, Leia regains her strength, and ends the movie as the powerful, respected Resistance leader she's meant to be.
All of Fisher's work in The Last Jedi was finished before her death on Dec. 27, 2016, and earlier this year, writer/director Rian Johnson told Rolling Stone that the filmmakers had "a totally complete performance" from the late actor. Because of that, "We didn't end up changing a thing" about Leia's arc in the movie or Fisher's scenes, Johnson explained. As such, Fisher's performance as Leia in The Last Jedi feels especially poignant, knowing that it's her last, completed work in a Star Wars movie.
As for if the actor and character will appear in the next Star Wars movie, though, that's not yet totally known. According to Mark Hamill, Fisher was set to have a pretty big role in this next Star Wars installment, and that obviously has to be altered due to her death. "I know they're going to try and find a way to close her story in [Episode 9] that gives her the respect she deserves, because [Han Solo] was more prominent in 7, Luke's a little more prominent in 8, and certainly Leia was meant to be more prominent in 9," Hamill said during a New York Comic-Con event, according to DigitalSpy.
And back in May, LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Vanity Fair that "The minute [Fisher] finished (shooting The Last Jedi), she grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' Because Harrison (Ford) was front and centre on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and centre on VIII'... She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been."
It's still possible that even if Leia doesn't have a major role in Episode IX, she'll still appear in some way or another. After all, Leia ends Episode VIII alive, and so the next movie will need to explain why she's not a significant character. Screenrant reports that former Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow has said that he plans to "honor her and keep her soul alive" in the upcoming movie, so expect some sort of tear-jerking tribute to Leia to occur. It's so upsetting that fans won't get to see the amazing work Fisher undoubtedly would've put in to a Leia-centric Star Wars movie, and that the talented actor is gone so soon, but the filmmakers behind the franchise clearly want to give her the honor she so deserved.